A review of the last few months in premium retail

As we’ve come to the end of the first quarter of the year, I’ve asked our Director’s to reflect on the past couple of months in retail and share the trends and common threads we’ve noticed across our retail clients and the sector as a whole.



Rosie Freshwater, Managing Director

Customer-centric marketing

Over the last couple of months, I have seen a continued trend towards customer-centric marketing with more brands quite rightly putting their customers at the heart of their marketing strategy. Retailers are waking up to the importance of combining data and insight in order to understand who their customers are and the experience they desire. I feel there has been a big shift from retailers making assumptions about their customers to investing in data insight to show them an accurate picture. However, many retailers still aren’t spending enough on data and are consequently unable to make changes to their customer experience.

Mobile websites

With the arrival of ‘Mobilegeddon’ (Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update) and the continued growth of mobile, we’ve seen many retailers dedicate more budget to mobile and ensure their websites are well optimised. Having a mobile-friendly site is now critical. We have noticed more customers using their mobiles for browsing on the way to and from work and in the evenings, they are multi-screening on both their tablet and mobile. In the forthcoming months, we can expect to see a stream of new initiatives available to marketers in terms of paid search and online specifically for mobile.

Engaging content

We’ve seen the trend for creating engaging content continue to grow and retailers are becoming much more consistent across all channels. We’ve recently been examining how retailers are creating customer engagement through content in our recent engagement reports and have found many retailers have a disparate content strategy across their social channels and are often creating content with little or no engagement. Forward thinking brands have kept their customers at the heart and are using insight about their customers to create cohesive content strategies around specific customer segments.

Email marketing

We’ve also seen a shift in the use of email marketing thanks to customer segmentation. Abandoned basket emails are still popular as are post-purchase communications and we’ve seen more retailers use past purchase data to ensure they are promoting relevant products. The most popular form of email marketing is for retention, but it’s also a strong acquisition tool if you invest in growing your mailing list. This is a great mechanism to capture those who are interested in your products so you can market to them whilst they make purchasing decisions.


A key challenge for retailers has been the growing expectations of consumers. They expect a seamless and personalised shopping experience and it’s a long term investment for retailers to meet those expectations. As the economy starts to feel more positive, I hope to see more retailers making longer term investments in experience to create long term value. Many marketing decisions in recent years have been made for the short term gain – often at a cost to long term profit and customer loyalty. Change will involve technology and a cultural shift and hopefully retailers will feel more confident about doing this.

Strive for a single customer view

I’ve seen many retailers struggle to combine multiple data sources to create the single customer view. The big retailers are starting to see progress in this area, but for smaller retailers it can be a challenge due to budget constraints. My advice would be to begin doing this bit by bit. Start by understanding the online customer and tailor your marketing activity towards them. Then combine that insight with in-store data. In the meantime, take small pockets of data and try to extrapolate out.

Looking forward

Over the next coming months, I’d like to see more suppliers to the retail industry working more closely together to provide a full customer experience service. As retailers grow their customer experience teams, those teams will start to look for suppliers that can help across multiple aspects of the customer experience and so those agencies and suppliers that are geared up to collaborate closely on projects across multiple customer touchpoints will be in high demand.


Ben Potter, Commercial Director

I’ve noticed the needs of some larger retailers are changing where their search agency is concerned. Often retailers have people internally all doing (in the main) great stuff in content creation, PR and social media (all essential components of a contemporary natural search strategy).

However, the activity is often managed by disparate teams and therefore not aligned and working towards overall business objectives (or even towards more granular natural search goals). Such silos are the enemy of an integrated search strategy so we are increasingly finding our role is changing. Rather than being responsible for execution, brands with in-house teams are looking for Leapfrogg to advise at a more strategic level, to help facilitate change and deliver training. This might include helping the client to put in place the necessary framework, team structure, processes and guidelines to align and maximise the impact of in-house content, social and PR activity.

We are not necessarily saying that in-house teams are set up to do everything themselves. There will always be gaps. But in a lot of cases we are finding larger clients are not looking for a fully outsourced solution in the traditional sense. They require a partner that can be flexible, adding value in the most appropriate fashion. This highlights something that I said in one of my Econsultancy posts back in 2012 – that natural search cannot be purchased and delivered as a commoditised, packaged service. Every business is entirely unique in terms of their agency requirements, determined primarily by their objectives and in-house resource/expertise. Only by building an understanding of the retailers business, sector, products, competitive landscape, internal resource or offline marketing activity can an agency deliver exactly what the client needs, which is often different to what they think they want.


Lucy Freeborn, Insight & Strategy Director

The most exciting development I’ve seen in premium retail over the past few months has been the evolution of content strategy AS retail strategy.

Although data, wrapped in insight, smothered in relevant content, has been at the heart of a good digital marketing strategy for a good couple of years now, informed content strategy as an ecommerce strategy is starting to be taken seriously by those brands with vision and the ambition to invest in creative and practical resource.

Trail blazer, Mr Porter has has this ‘Content as an Ecommerce’ platform nailed for a little while now; I certainly always look to them for a bit of lifestyle inspiration. But more mainstream brands have been developing this forward thinking, natural-search-proofed, social-media-gold-plated strategy on the quiet for the past few months. Farrow & Ball is one of my favourite brands who is doing ecommerce content well at the moment. What started at “shoppable content” a couple of years ago has become a fully fledged stand alone retail strategy in itself.

Indeed, we’re also starting to see one of the most exciting (and game changing) shifts in ecommerce content, as the traditional content creators realise their potential power to sell and evolve themselves into ecommerce platforms. Grazia famously bought London Boutiques, (one of our previous clients!) to develop its own branded ecommerce offering and I’m really looking forward to the launch of Conde Nast’s long-anticipated e-commerce venture later this year under the company’s existing brand Style.com. What could be a bigger threat to those retail brands working hard to become inspirational homes for content, than those already established homes for inspirational content, becoming retailers?

Indeed, as print publishing becomes a much more cut throat game, print advertising budgets are slashed and readerships drop, how else can those big publishers survive?

If understanding your customer is central to developing a solid retail strategy, then who’s better to develop a compelling retail offer, than those who have been developing a relationship with their reader for years. A flurry of publishing houses entering the retail landscape, I think, will shake things up for the better.

Insight Edit 7 – What content engages premium retail consumers?

Here at Leapfrogg, we have a panel of more than 800 premium retail consumers that we engage with on a regular basis to help us understand customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from their buying behaviours and opinions on brands, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

As engaging content is a huge part of the buying journey for most consumers, we wanted to find out which types of content influence purchasing decisions across fashion, food & drink, health & beauty, home accessories, furniture and giftware categories.

We asked our panel to select the top type of content they used to help them make purchases for each retail category out of the following list:

  • Product information
  • Images of products
  • Images of products in context /real life situations
  • Written descriptions of products
  • Written content on how to use the product
  • Customer reviews
  • Reviews from influential people /celebrities
  • Videos on how to use the products
  • Editorial videos (inspirational, adverts)

Although the order in which they appeared varied, the four types of content that were selected most across all categories were:

  • Images of products
  • Product details
  • Written descriptions of products
  • Images of products in context /real life situations

As you can see from the following charts, the only retail categories where visual and written product related content did not appear in the top three types were ‘health and beauty’ and ‘fashion’. In these categories, ‘customer reviews’ came within the top three types of content.

Customer reviews did appear consistently as important to consumers, but on average, they appeared in 4th place behind product related content.

Our key takeaway this week is that for any retail sector, it crucial to ensure your on-site product information is of high quality – both visual and written. Visual imagery must be ‘product only’ AND ‘product in context’ to gain the highest conversions.

Next in importance is customer reviews and then other content such as video and celebrity endorsement. Even though these types of content did not feature as highly as others, in many cases there were still between 20-40% of respondents viewing them as important.

This is why making sure you have a strong content budget is important to maximise on sales in any retail sector.


Food & Drink

Health & Beauty

Home accessories




*Graphs show only the top three types of content in each retail category.


How to amplify your content & updates from Twitter, Google and Facebook

Here’s our round-up of need-to-know social media & content news from the last few months and what it means for your digital marketing.

Savvy content marketers adopt a multi-channel approach to amplification

Content marketing has and always will be about creating useful, relevant content and targeting it at a carefully researched demographic. So far this year, I’ve noticed brands jumping on board with social media with gusto… unfortunately, there’s a heck of a lot of them jumping on board with zero strategy in place. With so much noise from brands and individuals, savvy content marketers need to be more strategic than ever if they’re going to get their content noticed.

Having a dual approach is crucial, blending highly useful, shareable onsite content to attract inbound links and mentions, while driving more relevant website traffic, with an outbound approach to get the attention of major publications and influencers. One often overlooked tactic to do this and a highly cost effective one, is the use of social PPC advertising to alert industry influencers and journalists about your content.

Whatever your brand, next time you have a piece of content you want to shout about, stop scraping the barrel for journalist contacts and put the news right in front of them. A great way to do this is to create Twitter lists of highly influential people and then target a Twitter ads campaign to appear directly in their newsfeeds. You’ll then have a measurable metric for the success of your content (clicks, retweets etc.) and furthermore, increase your chances of it being picked up and published.

Tied in content marketing, using a blend of promotional devices – and in this case focusing on the power of social PPC – instead of relying solely on more traditional journalist approaches (email, phone) to get your content featured, is my top tip for your next big campaign.

Google and Twitter partner up again

Google and Twitter reached an agreement for Google to start indexing tweets again after granting access to its Firehose. Firehose pings out over 9,000 tweets a second, meaning Google will always have access to the most up to date Twitter conversations to make Google searches even more relevant and the information thrown back to searchers, hyper-relevant and real-time.

If you were in any doubt as to the efficacy of Twitter as a marketing tool, this partnership – and with it the ability to get your tweets in front of both Twitter users and non-users – should convince you to step up your efforts on the platform and find your audience both in search and social.

Storytelling and tapping into emotion – the sure fire way to generate campaign engagement

Whether it’s marketers shaping the story, or the customer directly, storytelling in campaigns continue to be a strong tool for capturing your target audience’s attention.

Last month, we ran a campaign for our client, RocketSki, who – as the name suggests – provide fabulous ski holidays for corporates, groups and families.

The campaign – #TalesFromTheSlopes – asked RocketSki’s Facebook followers and lovers of skiing across Facebook (through Facebook advertising) to share their most breath-taking, funny or scary moments from the slopes and a picture of them in their best ski pose.

In collaboration with influential ski and snowboarding bloggers, the storytelling element of creative brought the campaign to life, as people flocked to the contest page to tell their #TalesFromTheSlopes. The winner, Claire Lomas, had an incredible story to tell. In 2007, Claire had a freak accident while competing at Osberton Horse Trials. This didn’t stop her though, as she turned her attention to mono skiing – essentially flying down the slopes in a specially crafted seat on skis. Her #TalesFromTheSlopes story attracted nearly 400 votes, making her the clear winner and a testament to the power of such an emotional journey – a story that captured the attention of all involved in the contest.

The campaign achieved great results for the client, including reengaging previous website visitors and converting new users into paying customers. Storytelling can be the catalyst not only for brand awareness and social media engagement, but as a genuine tool for driving sales and tangible return on investment.

Facebook continues to repress brand published organic content – less eyes on brand content

At time of writing – the last update from Facebook being on April 21st 2015 – titled ‘Balancing Content from Friends and Pages’ appears to lend itself to the following: “Dear brands, ‘If you were in any doubt, it’s time to use Facebook PPC to promote your brand message”.

Facebook is of course laser-focused on optimising content so that users’ eyeballs land on content that is relevant and interesting to them, so while organic posts are likely to see a further dip, it is still important for brands and the media to publish a rich variety of content. Whether it be videos, quizzes, thought provoking or humourous imagery, through to creative contests that reward followers for their support, brand pages will still play an important role in getting a return from social media efforts. Just don’t ignore the not so inconspicuous ‘paid social elephant in the room’… it’s time to up your social paid advertising budget if you really want to get your content seen.

The Insight Edit – Engaging elements of email for premium consumers

Here at Leapfrogg, we run a panel consisting of more than 700 premium retail consumers. We engage with them on a regular basis to help us understand their customer needs and expectations from the brands and retailers they buy from.

Every month, we question them on a range of areas from buying behaviours and brand opinion, to emotional purchase triggers and their recent shopping experiences.

The Insight Edit is our weekly bite size edit of the insight we gain from our panel in our search to truly understand the mind of the premium customer.

This week we are focussing on the factors that make emails from brands & retailers the most engaging for our panel.

We asked our panel to pick three reasons why they frequently open emails from brands & retailers and why they enjoy reading them.

Insight Edit

Discounts and offers

With 72% of respondents selecting it as important, emails that offered discounts and offers to the reader came in head and shoulders above all factors.

This reinforces the shopping behaviours that we have seen in recent years – that there has been a shift in buying behaviour and across all sectors of society and consumers have become more price conscious and constantly looking for the best deal or discount.

We drilled our data down further into gender and age group specifics, and found that only 30% of male respondents chose this factor opposed to 6 % of women. This highlighted how women are far more price conscious than men. The highest proportion of those that selected offers (27%) were in the age category 31 – 35. This is generally the age at which disposable income is squeezed the most as consumers have young children, mortgages etc.

Many retailers have struggled with the offer and discount culture and the effect it has on their brand and profit. Therefore to retain a premium and profitable customer base we recommend rather than cutting prices and offering deals on a regular basis, brands should focus more on exclusive offers for loyal customers that provide added value to their purchases.

Timing is everything

The next most important factor in creating engaging emails was related to the timing of them rather than content. 52% of people felt it was important that they were not inundated with emails. Therefore a crucial part of a good email campaign is to test and refine your send times and frequency, particularly within the premium sector.

Again, drilling into gender shows a marked difference with 70% of male respondents selecting it vs. 45% of women.

Curate specific products to suit your customers

Showcasing new and recommended products came a close third and fourth place. This highlights the importance of understanding the buying habits and behaviours of your customer base and being able to curate specific products to suit them.

Apart from product content, providing other types of content was only of medium importance across the board. This does not mean that it isn’t important for retailers not to have this type of content within their emails to engage and inspire, rather that it is a nice to have after getting the basics of product, offer and timing right.

Mobile optimisation

Interestingly, only 4% of our panel believed that mobile optimised were important. This is likely due to a lack of understanding of how the emails they are viewing on their mobile devices have already been mobile optimised to allow for easy reading.

The key takeaways from this week’s edit is that it is crucial to understand the type of customer you are sending your email to as there are large differences in how email is read and received across different genders and age groups. A ‘one size fits all’ email strategy will not provide high engagement rates and conversion and could end up alienating your customers instead of retaining them!

Social engagement within the premium multi-brand fashion sector

As part of our ongoing crusade to create the perfect customer experience, we’ve recently been examining how well premium retailers understand their customers and are therefore able to produce content that engages them.

Last year we looked at premium furniture retailers and this year we’ve been focusing on multi-brand fashion retailers.

For multi-brand fashion retailers, building a unique identity that customers want to engage with can be challenge compared to retailers that stock own-brand products. Own brand retailers are much better placed to be able to carve out an identity for themselves through the uniqueness of their product and being able to focus their brand and style to a narrower target audience. In light of this, multi-brand fashion retailers need solid and effective content strategies tailored to specific customer segments in order to stand out in a competitive market and engage their customers to encourage purchases and loyalty.

In our report, we’ll reveal how 15 leading fashion retailers have performed in our analysis. We’ve also looked in depth at the three top scoring brands and explored the reasons why these brands have scored higher whilst offering some tips and recommendations for these brands to create even more engagement that other brands can learn from.

Get your copy of the report here.

Facebook and Pinterest updates, social listening and building ‘good’ links

Here’s our round-up of need-to-know social media & content news from the last few months and what it means for your digital marketing.

Facebook cracks down on promotional posts and rolls out CTA buttons

If your business has a Facebook Page, you can’t have failed to notice that your content is reaching fewer and fewer people. Throughout the past year, Facebook has been rolling out updates to its News Feed which have gradually suppressed content published by Pages in order to improve user experience. At the end of last year, Facebook announced further changes which specifically target “promotional content” from Pages such as offers, competitions and product announcements – meaning we’re pretty much at the stage now that organic reach on Facebook is, at best, incredibly difficult to achieve and, at worst, non-existent. Therefore, it’s now essential that your Facebook strategy comprises two different strands: ‘paid promotional’ and ‘organic engagement’. In other words, if you want your content to be seen, you need to be combining advertising with publishing quality content that resonates with your audience. By separating activity into these two different strands, you’re getting your promotional content in front of your target audience, as well as building relationships with existing customers – which is essential for delivering a stand-out customer experience.


Image via Maria Elena on Flickr.

Despite reducing Page reach, Facebook maintains that Pages are an essential part of any brand’s social strategy. Of course they do, advertising is how they make their money. No matter how cynical you are about Facebook’s methods though, the fact remains that it’s still the biggest social network and – for almost every retailer – this is probably the place that most of your customers are hanging out in their spare time. In order to help brands make Pages more tailored to achieving their marketing objectives, Facebook is rolling out Call To Action Buttons including ‘Book Now’, ‘Shop Now’ and ‘Sign Up’ – so keep an eye out for these becoming available for your Page.

Pinterest introduces ‘Smart Feed’

Towards the last quarter of 2014, Pinterest stopped showing users pins from everyone they follow in their feed in chronological order by introducing an algorithm called the Smart Feed. This means that when you log on to Pinterest now, you will see pins from three different sources: people you follow, related pins and pins that Pinterest thinks you’ll like based on your interests. The highest quality pins (determined by a number of different factors) are pushed to the top of the feed, making them more likely to be seen. The Smart Feed also ensures that you aren’t being shown the same pins over and over again each time you visit the site.

What does this mean for your brand’s Pinterest account? It means that you need to optimise your pins for the Pinterest Smart Feed in order to maximise the chance of them being seen. Some of the ways that you can increase the chance of your content appearing in users’ feeds are:

• Ensure your images are eye-catching, high quality and portrait-oriented
• Implement rich pins to automatically brand your content and encourage conversions by telling your audience which products are in stock and how much they are
• Spend time crafting your pin descriptions, ensuring they are well-written and contain key words and phrases which relate to your content
• Only re-pin content from other users that’s as high quality as your brand’s content
• Pin things that are useful and inspiring rather than being overly promotional
• Add the ‘Pin It’ button to your site to make it easier for visitors to share your products and content – then your site visitors do the work for you

Social listening is essential

Social media users are becoming so bombarded with advert-style messaging that they’re getting pretty good at shutting out the noise – one of the reasons for Facebook’s decision to suppress promotional posts. With every piece of content you post in these social spaces, you’re competing for peoples’ attention not just with other brands, but with their friends, family and favourite celebrities too. If you’re just shouting about buying your products or services, then you’re never going to cut through all of the more interesting things that your audience could be looking at.

What’s the solution? Listen to your audience, get to know them, understand what they talk about, use the same language as they do and show that you care about the same things as them. There’ll be a reason why they followed you in the first place – because something about your brand resonated with them. Build on this by creating content that builds relationships. It’s only by nurturing your audience and showing an interest in them that you create a brilliant customer experience.

There are numerous tools available that you can use to monitor not just what people are saying about your brand name, but around terms relating to your product too – for example, if you sell coats you could monitor conversations around the weather being cold and join the conversation where appropriate. As you go along and discover these communities online, make a note of where most of the relevant conversations are going on – these are the primary channels you should focus on. Also pay close attention to the questions that your audience are asking – can you produce content that answers these questions for them and direct them to it via social? Or do your products solve their problems in themselves?

Building ‘good’ links to your site (and why bloggers are still important)

It’s been a controversial subject ever since Google released its first Penguin update, penalising sites that had focused their SEO strategy on building up hundreds or even thousands of low-quality, paid-for links. Subsequent updates and clarifications to Penguin saw Google telling webmasters that ANY followed link which had been paid for in any way – either by exchange of cash or goods – was at risk of attracting the wrath of Penguin.

Of course, to police every single link would be impossible – but the risk has been sufficient enough to make people wary of any practises that could be considered even remotely suspect. With this in mind, here are some suggested ways to gain links in a safe and sustainable way:

• Conduct customer insight to gain an in-depth understanding of your brand’s audience
• Create on-site content which addresses real, query-based searches which are relevant to your customers and potential customers
• Ensure that every single piece of content you publish on your site has purpose and adds value
• Make sure your content is better than and different to what your competitors are doing – that’s the only way to get attention

Once you’ve got the content on your site, tactics to get it linked to are:

• Identify relevant, niche publications relating to your industry and let them know about your brand and content – it’s much easier to get links from these smaller sites but links will be relevant (which Google rewards) and they’ll drive smaller volumes of highly qualified traffic which is likely to convert
• Take a look at the link profiles of your competitors, identify where their best links are coming from and target the same publications OR offer your own resources as an alternative / updated source where information is outdated
• Publish blog posts that feature quotes from or interviews with key influencers in your industry and let them know that they’ve been featured – they’ll likely be more than happy to share your content via their social networks and may even link to it from their site
• Sign up to sites such as HARO or Response Source and answer relevant queries from journalists which could result in coverage for your organisation – even if you don’t get a link, brand citations from authoritative sites will still have value
• Interactive content such as quizzes and branded tools are great ways to attract links because people have to link to your site when they talk about them

While for SEO purposes you have to earn links, this doesn’t mean that sending products to bloggers for review or engaging in commercial collaborations shouldn’t be part of your strategy anymore. Blogs which are read widely by your target audience are hugely important for raising brand awareness and driving quality traffic which converts. Even though these links won’t hold natural search value, don’t ignore them. Most importantly, a relationship that starts with a paid promotion can be nurtured to create an influential brand advocate – it might even result in editorial coverage and an earned link at a later date.

Header image via Jason Howie on Flickr.

The Weekly Shop (12th – 16th Jan)

In this week’s Weekly Shop news digest we look at the importance of customer experience management, predictions for the marketing world in 2010 and how customer satisfaction has reached the lowest point since 2010.

What is customer experience management (CEM) and why should you be focusing on it?

Our first article this week looks at the terms customer experience and customer experience management that have risen to the top of every business’s agenda over the last year. Econsultancy have defined the terms and also outlined the benefits of both quality customer experience and customer experience management.

Customer satisfaction reaches lowest point since 2010

Based on the feedback from nearly 40,000 customer experiences, the 2015 UK Customer Satisfaction Index has shown that satisfaction has reached the lowest point since 2010 – with only the utilities and banking sectors improved during 2014. Retailers John Lewis and Amazon topped the league table for customer satisfaction and other retailers in the top ten included Ocado, Marks and Spencer (food), Waitrose, Argos and Aldi.

10 Predictions for the Marketing World in 2015

You’ve probably read plenty of marketing predictions over the last few weeks, but Rand Fishkin’s predictions for the marketing world in 2015 are well worth a read. Head over to The Moz blog to find out what they are.

Five trends for retailers to watch

This next article from Internet Retailing looks at five trends that retailers should keep an eye on in 2015 which include wearables, cashless payments and drones.

Sales speak: using the right language to keep online buyers interested

Our last article this week explores how to use language to keep oniline buyers interested and includes some handy tips on what to do and what not to do.

Thanks for reading!

Premium retail Christmas campaigns

Christmas is, without a doubt, one of the most important times of the year for retailers and a successful Christmas can really make the difference between success and failure for a retailer.

With so much hinging on the Christmas period, it’s little surprise to see just how much effort and money retailers will put into their festive marketing campaigns. It’s no longer enough to promote the latest product or discount; campaigns must be clever, creative and most importantly emotive to win over shoppers in time for the festive rush.

This year, the stakes have been raised even higher with more lavish and creative campaigns appearing across all platforms. In light of this, we’ve brought together some of the most innovative campaigns that we have spotted this year to identify which retailers are most likely to have tapped into their customers’ hearts (and purses!)

Harvey Nichols – Could I be any clearer?

Last year we wrote about Harvey Nichols’ rather shallow Christmas campaign and this year they’ve continued the theme by launching a range of ‘Could I Be Any Clearer’ Christmas cards.

When viewing products on the Harvey Nichols website you can select ‘create Christmas card’ which allows you to choose a card design which can be printed, emailed or shared through social media to send to your loved ones with a not-so-subtle hint of what’s really on your mind this Christmas.

Mulberry #WinChristmas

Mulberry is another brand who is continuing the theme of Christmas being all about the presents and has created an online campaign entitled #WinChristmas. The advert features an upper class household with family members all competing to outdo each other in their gifts for the spoilt daughter. Each present gets more and more over the top (including a Unicorn!) until granny trumps them all with a Mulberry handbag which gets the biggest reaction from the daughter.

The advert serves as a light-hearted reminder from the luxury brand that you can’t go wrong with giving a Mulberry bag for Christmas. The advert is also complemented by press, digital, in-store window displays, visual merchandising, social competitions and a digital Christmas gift finder – although I am not convinced anyone who has been really naughty deserves something from Mulberry!

Ted Baker’s #EdSelfie

This year, fashion retailer, Ted Baker has done something a bit different and launched a Christmas-themed game on Instagram to engage shoppers over the Christmas period.

The #TedsElfie campaign asks fans to help find Santa’s missing elves and gives clues on their social media pages with hints about where to look. Over on the @TedsElfie Instagram page, you can view various pictures and when you tap them clues are revealed as to the elves whereabouts. When you find an Elf, users can comment on the photos and follow the instructions for a chance to win prizes. I think it’s a really innovative campaign and a great use of Instagram and is certainly capturing the attention of fans of the brand.

Selfridges ‘Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest’

Selfridges is another retailer who has also launched a Christmas-themed game to build awareness of their Elfridges service and loyalty amongst shoppers.

The retro inspired game called ‘Elfridge and the Enchanted Forest’ has five levels to represent each of its five stores and transactional website. Players take on the role of an Elfrdige to save Christmas after a golden goose steals the presents from Selfridges and have to navigate through a world reminiscent of Nintendo’s Super Mario. The game serves as a fun marketing tool to inform users about the locations of their different stores and the offers available.

Magic & Sparkle #Followthefairies

This year’s offering from Marks & Spencer has a strong emphasis on social media and the retailer has ditched all the celebrity signings it focused on so heavily last year.

M&S has launched an advert which features two fairies, Magic & Sparkle, who aim to lift festive spirits with ‘random acts of kindness.’ The retailer has utilised their Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts to spread the word and generate chatter with the hashtag #followthefairies.

To emphasise their theme of ‘acts of kindness’ M&S listened to people’s wishes on social media and used geotagging to locate them and make them come true. They ran unbranded events such as creating real snow outside a school in Cornwall, giving gifts to night shift workers, delivering chocolates to a hospital ward to and creating fairies made out of lights above Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge – all of which weren’t revealed to be the work of M&S until the advert was released. The fairies Twitter account has already amassed a massive 42,000 followers and the challenge for M&S will be to keep the attention of the followers they have amassed after the Christmas season.

Burberry – From London With Love

Burberry has launched a four minute film entitled From London with Love which features 12-year old Romeo Beckham – son of David and Victoria Beckham. As well as the advert, the campaign features an interactive store window in its London and Paris stores which enable visitors to interact with individual scenes in the advert through their mobiles. Consumers are also able to shop for items directly through Twitter.

Christopher Bailey, the brands CEO and Creative Director said the idea was about combining a “physical experience with something that is online” and working with Twitter meant the brand could “do that on different platforms in a physical location”.

John Lewis – Monty’s Magical Toy Machine

It wouldn’t be a Christmas campaign blog without including John Lewis. I thought this year’s advert was sweet, but it didn’t blow me away. However, what I thought was really innovative was some of the other ideas intended to extend the life of the campaign such as Monty’s Magical Toy Machine. At the flagship John Lewis store in Oxford Street, children can scan their favourite toy into the machine and through photogrammetry technology the toy then appears on screen as a moving as a life-like 3D image and dances for the child. I can only imagine the children’s responses to their toys coming to life!

So there you have it; just a few of the Christmas campaigns we’ve spotted this Christmas. Which one is your favourite and are there any other good ones that I have missed?

Content Marketing Show Round-Up November 2014

Last month I attended the Content Marketing Show in Brighton. The free conference featured 14 fantastic speakers, all armed with great insights and tips around creating an awesome content strategy for your brand or organisation.

The main theme of the day, recurring in talk after talk, was the importance of using customer insight to inform your content strategy – something we very much champion here at Leapfrogg.

Here’s a round-up of my favourite talks and personal takeaways from the day, you’ll also find links to speakers’ slide decks if you want to dig deeper into any of the topics.

What content marketers can learn from advertisingMark Johnstone | @epicgraphic

Opening the conference was Mark Johnstone from Distilled, who spoke about what content marketers can learn from successful advertising campaigns, along with sharing plenty of actionable tips for successful idea generation.

Key takeaways:

  • Creative companies come up with their campaigns by focusing on three elements:
  • Customer insight – by finding out what your audience is interested in, you can find a credible way to link them to your brand
  • Product truth – identifying the problem with your product , i.e. what’s blocking sales or conversions
  • Competitor insight – looking at what competitors are already doing, ensuring you do something different
  • The winning formula for content creation is something that is relevant to your customers, resonant of your brand and different to your competitors
  • When coming up with ideas, be in creative mode rather than analytical mode – when you try to do both at the same time, you get writer’s block
  • Practise by analysing TV adverts – look beyond the advert and try to figure out how brands got to that point (e.g. Old Spice came up with their successful ‘Old Spice Guy’ campaign because they realised it was mainly women buying the products for their partners – so they spun their competitors’ campaigns on their heads to appeal to this audience instead)
  • Successful ideation is like solving crimes, so make like Sherlock:
    • Information – start by collecting all your data
    • Saturation – write down all your data points, freeing your mind up to connect them, then push as far as you can in trying to combine the different elements
    • Incubation – when you’ve exhausted all possible ideas, go and do something completely different
    • Illumination – write the question you’re trying to answer or the problem you’re trying to solve and brain dump 20 answers
    • Verification – run ideas past your internal team as well as speaking to someone unrelated to the project or industry

Why people favourite things – Max L. Wilson | @gingdottwit

Max L. Wilson gave a fascinating talk about the reasons people ‘favourite’ Tweets – his research was featured in this Buzzfeed article if you’re interested in reading more.

Key takeaways:

  • Essentially, people favourite tweets because they perceive them as being useful
  • People define whether a tweet is useful using the following factors:
    • Content – relates to personal experience / direct recommendation from someone / increases social knowledge / contains specific information of interest
    • Subjective – they find it entertaining / they share the sentiment
    • Relevance – recently published / relates to their location
    • Trust – trusted author / trusted avatar (i.e. not an egg) / trustworthy-looking link
    • Links – contains actionable link, media-rich link or info link
    • Response – tweet has had lots of RTs or replies
  • People define tweets as NOT useful according to the following factors:
    • Anti-trust – untrusted author / untrustworthy link
    • Irrelevance – out of date / irrelevant location
    • Response – question without answers / repeated content
    • Content – no info / too introspective / off topic / too technical / looks like SPAM / dead link / poor grammatical construction / not in their language
    • Subjective – too subjective / disagreeable / not funny

How to implement an audience engagement strategy using content – Laura Crimmons | @lauracrimmons

Laura’s talk was focused on the fact that engagement is becoming much more of a ranking factor, because Google wants to favour sites that serve their target audience well. To generate more engagement with your content, your audience should be at the core of your social strategy.

Key takeaways:

  • Understand your online audience – they’re likely to be different to your offline audience
  • Know where your audience spend their time – i.e. social media platforms, reviews sites or forums
  • Understand your audience’s engagement behaviour – how do they talk to their networks? How do they engage with brands?
  • Create personas – include name, age, what they share, which channels they’re active on, what they’re reading, what they’re listening to – then tailor your content to these personas
  • Use paid social media to test your content before you roll it out – target your personas, as this will indicate whether your content is likely to be successful
  • Other than your own social profiles, think about where you can reach your target audience – for example, forums are a fantastic source of information about brand conversations
  • Use the 80/20 principle – 80% of your content marketing efforts should focus on key influencers
  • Join in with existing conversations online, don’t start them – listen, interact and add value
  • You need to spend twice as much time listening to your audience as talking to them
  • Mine Q&A sites for content ideas – this will provide insight into what people need to know, then you can produce content that answers these questions
  • Think beyond links to demonstrate the ROI of your content – e.g. traffic and conversions

Data is the Rocket Fuel to your Content Strategy – James Perrot | @James_Perrot

Continuing on the dominant theme of the day – that your audience should drive your content strategy – James Perrot from Zazzle shared some brilliant insights from his personal experience.

Key takeaways:

  • While links and rankings are great, they can be deceiving – traffic and money are what matters
  • Use data to inform content by finding out which questions your audience are asking and answer them
  • People searching Google for non-brand terms probably won’t have any brand loyalty – this is your opportunity to market your content
  • Useful tools for identifying content opportunities:
    • SEMrush allows you to export keyword data, ranking position and search volumes to identify content opportunities
    • Export keywords from SEMrush and run them through Google AdWords Keyword Planner to find average monthly searches for these keywords
    • Run singular terms through io to generate a list of long-tail opportunities for your content
  • These tools allow you to publish your content at the right time to maximise its impact – if necessary WAIT for the right time to publish
  • Content created in this way attracts brand evangelists, not just search volume

Digital video: getting your hands dirty and avoiding newbie mistakes – Tom Bailey | @bomtailey

Online video is a big deal, and it’s set to continue that way. Tom Bailey shared his tips for avoiding rookie mistakes when creating videos as part of your content strategy.

Key takeaways:

  • Video content doesn’t have to be BIG – there are great opportunities for “smaller” pieces of video content such as conference filming, product demos, instructional videos, webinars, interviews and video blogs
  • It’s OK to replicate existing formats – study what’s out there, deconstruct it and recreate it in your own way
  • Sound quality is SO important – get it right and use a professional microphone, you don’t want poor sound to ruin your video
  • Planning is vital before you start filming – don’t just jump in
  • Screen test the people you want in the video – they might not come across as well as you think they will on camera
  • Help your video editor as much as you can – editing is a big job so don’t just hand the project over, work closely with them
  • Natural light is your worst nightmare because it’s so variable, you’re better off using a blacked out room where you’re in complete control

Starting projects content-first – Andy Parker | @theavangelist


Much to the delight of the many geeks in the room, Andy’s talk focused largely on the most hyped game to ever be released: Destiny.

Key takeaways:

  • Designing a website isn’t just about visuals – information architecture is so important
  • Don’t build a site map before writing your content – start with your content, then work out how you’re going to structure it and work closely with UX designers in the process
  • It took ten years to create Destiny and its supporting content, but it’s all locked down and they’ve made some pretty big mistakes with their architecture:
    • There’s no content of any value on the website – all content is housed within an app
    • You need to have purchased the game to be able to access the content and then log into an external app – not a user-friendly journey
    • You can’t access any supplementary content during gameplay
  • Websites need to enable seamless access to content AND seamless sharing of content
  • Content must be accessible, no matter how you’re getting to it – regardless of connection speed or device

Organisation, planning & scheduling: the secret to content marketing success – James Perrin | @Koozai_James

As we moved towards the end of the conference, James Perrin from Koozai spoke about the importance of organisation and planning when it comes to your content marketing.

Key takeaways:

  • Research is essential in allowing you to strategise in a methodical and systematic way
  • Before starting any project you need research:
    • Who your competitors are – understand your position in the marketplace
    • Who your influencers and brand advocates are
    • Who your audience types are
    • Which publications you want to be featured in
    • Your key content themes and opportunities
    • What the best-performing content is in your sector
  • Be a tortoise, not a hare – don’t rush into creating content that hasn’t been properly planned
  • Use a project management tool such as Basecamp in which you can assign tasks, set deadlines, etc. – even just a simple white board will do
  • An editorial calendar is essential because it keeps everybody focused
  • Allow yourself time to be creative – ‘cone yourself off’, get everyone to leave you alone, block time out in your diary and take time out to generate ideas
  • Don’t imitate, innovate – use your research and insight to create unique content that adds value

Consume customer consciousness for colossal content creation – Jon Norris | @Jn_Norris

The only talk of the day to include such an incredible amount of alliteration in its title, I was looking forward to Jon’s talk. Crunch is a brilliant example of a brand that creates fantastic, user-led content and invests heavily in their content strategy and creation – with great success.

Key takeaways:

  • “Content marketing is what happens when sales and marketing make love” – in essence, your content needs to sell, it is marketing, after all
  • Editorial and sales should have an equal presence in your content strategy
  • Audience personas and buying cycles need to inform each other – when you get to know your audience and genuinely engage them, you can sell to them more effectively
  • How do you get to know your audience and identify what they need from you?
    • Ask client-facing staff and interrogate support tickets
    • Look at site search queries, especially those returning no results
    • Crawl web forums
    • Ask people – simply talking to clients is too often overlooked
  • Using the above data, divide customers into sections / purchase stages – by knowing what their problems are, you can create personas using genuinely relevant information
  • Map your personas to each stage of the buying cycle – by identifying the types of content your clients are consuming, you can determine where they are in the buying cycle and customise the CTAs on your site (e.g. people at the very first stage of their buying journey will be looking for information – so give it to them)
  • Audit your content properly – this allows you to tie the issues your customers are facing into the content you already have:
    • Put all your content into a spread sheet
    • Categorise it to match client issues and personas
    • Identify where you need to improve your content offering – and do it!

Social engagement within the premium furniture sector

As part of our ongoing crusade to create the perfect customer experience, during the latter part of this year, we have been investigating how well premium retailers understand their customers and are therefore able to produce content that engages them.

When purchasing expensive and premium items, consumers tend to seek inspiration and research products extensively online before taking the plunge. Therefore, engaging brand content plays a crucial role in developing relationships with potential customers. But to produce engaging content that leads to sales, retailers need to develop a thorough understanding of the needs and expectations of their customers. Only then can they create content in the right format, with the right information and tone of voice, and position it in the right place for their customers to find and engage with it.

Our first report in this series focuses on the premium furniture & interiors sector. We have assessed 20 of the UK’s leading retailers including Loaf, Made.com, Heal’s and Habitat amongst many others and used our engagement scoring system to assess how well the brands are engaging their audiences. We have ranked each retailer’s performance and explored further how the top three scoring brands are hitting the mark with engaging their target audience, but also what they can do to improve their strategies. In addition, we have provided our tips on how brands can gain more insight about their customers in order to drive more meaningful engagement.

Our report and analysis has highlighted how the furniture & interior sector still has a long way to go to rival the most compelling brands in the digital space, with only a small percentage of the UK’s leading furniture retailers’ actually producing content that engaged their audiences.

You can download the full report here. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the report findings, please get in touch. And remember to keep a look out for future reports covering further sectors within premium retail in the New Year.